WalkUP Roslindale Comment Letter on 874-878 South Street Residential Project

Architectural rendering of proposed 874-878 South Street development (right side)

Architectural rendering of proposed 874-878 South Street development (right side)

This week we sent a comment letter on a proposed residential project at 874-878 South Street, located at the “corner of South Street and South Street”–across from Green T Coffee Shop and adjacent the Hong Kong 888 Cafe, where South Street becomes Walter Street and turns into South Street. We’ve covered this development before in this space, going back at least as far as our first round of feedback back in July 2015, and the latest plans were circulated at an abutter meeting in March. We are typically aligned with “YIMBY” groups and inclined to support residential development, because density both promotes walkability and creates more desperately needing housing opportunities.

Our eagerness to support development is neither unlimited nor uncritical, however. In the case of this project, WalkUP is withholding support for the zoning relief requested by the developer based on a design that is sorely lacking. We are likely to get only one crack at each of these new buildings in our lifetimes, so it behooves us to get it right. We are hopeful that the developer will take our constructive criticism to heart and improve the proposed designed before its zoning appeal hearing, which is likely to be scheduled in October. We’ll post updates here as we get them, either on the design or the hearing date. In the meantime, our full comments are below and also available as the PDF letter as submitted to the Board of Appeal.

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WalkUP Roslindale Comment Letter on 4281 Washington Street Residential Project

Brayton's Upholstery

Brayton’s Upholstery – Existing Structure – Image Courtesy Universal Hub

We recently sent an official comment letter on a proposed project that would replace Brayton’s Custom Upholstery at 4281 Washington St. with a four-story, 12-unit apartment building with 12 parking spaces on the first floor. The project was discussed in July on Universal Hub. Our comments relate mainly to the design of the project, which we found lacking. We’re hoping the developer will take these comments into account as he goes through the BPDA design review process, as the project has already received the necessary zoning relief. Continue reading for our thoughts, and feel free to add yours in the comments.

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Roslindale Gateway Path & Blackwell Path Extension – Now combined and on the move!

Rozzie Gateway Path Entrance (image courtesy Halvorson Design Partnership, Inc.)

We last updated folks on the progress of the Roslindale Gateway Path when we, along with our partners LivableStreets Alliance, the Arnold Arboretum, and Roslindale Village Main Street, released the conceptual design study back in April of this year. Since then, we have discussed more seamlessly weaving together and unifying the RGP with the Blackwell Path Extension that the Arboretum Park Conservancy has been promoting on roughly the same timeframe. Those discussions resulted in a joint meeting with city officials in June 2017 to put the combined project squarely on their radar and just a few days ago the decision by the Solomon Foundation to provide $29,000 in funding to advance the combined project to 25% design. The Arnold Arboretum will be facilitating this work with Solomon and the design consultants at Horsley Witten Group and we look forward to releasing and publicly discussing this design when it is released later this year. So, special thanks to Solomon and the Arboretum for keeping the momentum up on this effort!

Stonybrook Neighborhood Slow Streets – Pre-Construction Open House – August 25 – 6 to 8 pm @ Curtis Hall (20 South St., JP)

It’s been a long time that this particular set of changes has been in the works. But it sounds like Stonybrook’s Neighborhood Slow Streets improvements will go in next month. Pre-construction meeting to be hosted by BTD/PWD scheduled for Friday, August 25 at 6-8 pm at Curtis Hall in JP (20 South Street).

It will be really good to have slow street improvements actually put on the ground in this city so we can all go see what they’re like and share with our neighbors.

WalkUP Roslindale Support Letter for 44 Lochdale Road Project

Roslindale Self Storage Improvements Rendering

Roslindale Self Storage Improvements Rendering

Last week, we sent a letter to the Boston Board of Appeal in support of a proposed expansion of a self-service storage facility at 44 Lochdale Road (just off Washington Street near Forest Hills). The full letter is reproduced below. Although we typically focus on housing and retail that will improve street-level vitality and walkability, off-site storage also has its place in vibrant urban neighborhoods, particularly as density increases and some folks chose to live in smaller units and thus need some overflow space. We also see the proposal as a substantial improvement over current conditions; for these reasons, we sent the letter below.

Having received our letter and encountering no opposition (at least at the hearing), the Board of Appeal approved the requested zoning variations on July 25, 2017.

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Crossing at Washington & Basile gets some attention and we are thrilled and appreciative!

Flexpost

Flexpost

We know WalkUP Roslindale’s walk audit in December 2015 wasn’t the first time members of our neighborhood identified the crosswalk at the intersection of Washington and Basile streets as being in need of safety improvements. Indeed, we recognized at at the time that we were joining a long line of activists who had already called for changes at this important crossing at the northern entrance to Roslindale Square that is the main access point from the west for students going to and from the Sumner School. It was accordingly great to see city contractors out at this intersection in the last few weeks and days reinforcing the recently signed no-parking/standing areas adjacent to the crosswalk, installing curb-ramps, fixing the flashing yellow light, and installing the pedestrian crossing bollard and flexposts in almost all the required areas (the area right on the southbound side is, we believe, awaiting the completion of utility work before flexposts will go in).

We all recognize that there is more work to be done throughout the square and the entire neighborhood to improve walking and cycling and overall safety for all users of our streets. But we will pause for this moment to thank everyone who had a hand this, starting with walkBoston, who took us through the walk audit, and including the Mayor’s Office for Neighborhood Services, Councilors McCarthy and Wu, the Boston Transportation and Public Works Departments, and Roslindale Village Main Street.

 

Support Letter for Washington Street Corridor Bus Rapid Transit Proposal

Washington Street is arguably the single most critical–and failing–piece of transportation infrastructure in our neighborhood. As restaurants, retail, and housing around Forest Hills explodes (e.g.), and Roslindale Square itself becomes more populated as well as an increasingly popular destination to visit, it will become ever more urgent to make this one-mile connection sustainable. This includes improving the streetscape, sidewalks, and crosswalks for pedestrians; the road for cyclists; offering a more reasonably priced commuter-rail connection; and radically improving bus service. Our Roslindale Gateway Path initiative is another important solution to this puzzle. There is no reason it should take more than ten minutes for anyone to get from the end of the Orange Line to Roslindale Village at any time of day, including time spent waiting for a bus.

If our leaders don’t take real steps soon, we will see gridlock for more and more hours of the day, and extending further and further back toward Roslindale and then on to Dedham. There is simply no space to put more cars in this dense area, whether they are in motion or parked. We need creative solutions, and we need them quickly.

One high ROI proposal we’d like to see implemented immediately is bus rapid transit (“BRT”) improvements along the Washington Street corridor. To that end, back in May, we submitted a letter to support a Boston Transportation Department grant proposal to the charitable nonprofit Barr Foundation. Details below, or in this PDF copy of our letter. We expect to hear from the foundation in the next several weeks about funding. Fingers crossed!

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Roslindale’s First Ever Street Mural Painting – Sunday, June 4, 2017 12pm-3pm at South Conway and South Street

We are pleased to announce a milestone for the WalkUP Roslindale Street Mural initiative: Roslindale’s First Ever Street Mural Painting. Following in the footsteps of Somerville, Cambridge, Seattle among other great cities, the Mayor’s Mural Crew will assist in creating a street mural adjacent the MBTA commuter rail parking lot, at the intersection of South Conway and South Street.

Our friends from Roslindale Village Main Street will be there to support the effort. There will also be a drum circle from 1pm-2:30pm. For those under age 15, we will have street chalk for your own creative art work.

Rain date – June 11. Check walkuproslindale.org closer to the date for any weather updates.

A helpful graphic in thinking about which modes of mobility do vs. should get attention

Picked up this graphic at a Jeff Speck session at CNU25. Abundantly true of a city like Boston, where it makes no sense that our mayor still isn’t fully behind appropriate funding for active mobility and Vision Zero, or applying, right now, political will to breaking down the institutional barriers that are holding us back.